Nacho Álvarez • Director of My Heart Goes Boom!
"This film is an homage to the Italian diva"
- Uruguay’s Nacho Álvarez makes his directorial debut with My Heart Goes Boom!, a musical produced by Spain and Italy, featuring the popular hits of pop star Raffaella Carrà
After passing through the film market in Toronto, My Heart Goes Boom! [+see also:
interview: Nacho Álvarez
film profile], a movie based on the songs of Raffaella Carrà, is being presented as an RTVE Gala screening at the 68th San Sebastián Film Festival. Co-produced – and really, how could it not be? – by Italy and Spain, and directed by Nacho Álvarez (Montevideo, 1986), it stars Ingrid García-Jonsson, Verónica Echegui and Fernando Tejero all swaying their hips to the beat.
Cineuropa: Is Carrà also famous in Uruguay?
Nacho Álvarez: Yes, she is just as famous in Latin America as she is here in Europe: they’ve already written to me to ask for interviews in Chile, Venezuela and Argentina, where they are eagerly awaiting the film.
But how did you end up in Madrid?
I came here three years ago to start from scratch because I used to do adverts and fashion in my home country, and you can’t aim any higher than that there. My granddad was from Asturias, and I have a Spanish passport. I asked my brother, Fede Álvarez (The Girl in the Spider’s Web [+see also:
film profile]), if he knew any producers in Spain, and he put me in touch with Mariela Besuievsky, of Tornasol, who – coincidentally – is also Uruguayan. I told her I would love to shoot a musical, and she admitted that she had never produced one, but that she would really like to do so. In March 2018, we had the first draft of the script ready, and in 2019, everything was in motion again after our search for funding, so we had a meeting with Raffaella in Rome to explain the idea to her, and she loved it. In addition, the Italian co-producers are Indigo Film, who won the Oscar for The Great Beauty [+see also:
interview: Paolo Sorrentino
film profile], where there’s a remix of one of her songs.
But the film’s story unfolds in Spain…
We never thought about having it any other way: I have always been fascinated by this country, ever since my granddad used to talk to me about it. The first place I ever went to outside of Uruguay was Spain, in 2007, when I was 20 years old, and I fell in love with Madrid. That’s why I wanted to set it here, even though the story has an Italian connection: María, the main character, escapes from Rome to Madrid.
And did the screenplay for the film fit together nicely with her songs?
The starting point for us was the songs: we listened to them all and began to separate those that had to be in it because they were hits and others that were less famous. We looked for keywords that we could use to describe a character or a location, and that’s why they’re not all hits, but they are so catchy that they will become famous. Raffaella has so many songs that it’s impossible to cram them all into a movie… In the end, we could only fit in 13. We looked on YouTube, Spotify and so on, and we came across “Sin ti” [lit. “Without You”], for example, which brings the film to a close, which is not famous but is catchy – so much so that the crew would sing it endlessly on set.
We should make it clear that My Heart Goes Boom! is not a biopic of the Bologna-born diva.
Yes, as was the case with Mamma Mia! [+see also:
film profile], which featured ABBA songs but was not about the band or its members. I confessed to Raffaella that this film is an homage to her, and she thanked me for it. We wanted the feature to exude that feeling of being a tribute to an artist: every woman in the movie has a little bit of her inside and represents her in one way or another, from that artistic temperament to some of her own experiences, which are told through her songs.
And why did you decide to tackle the topic of censorship on Spanish television during the Franco era?
There is a song of hers called “Dame la libertad” [lit. “Give Me Freedom”], which includes the line: “Censor the letters I receive.” There was a good idea in there, and I read a dissertation on a censor who worked at [national TV channel] Televisión Española, and who had written a book in the 1950s about the things you could and couldn’t do in film and on TV. There was one bit in particular that said: it is forbidden to show dances in which the feet do not leave the ground, because it loses the genuine gymnastic aspect in favour of the erotic one. And that was the film, right there. Plus, given that Carrá’s songs talk about dancing, the main character simply had to be a dancer.
I think Raffaella Carrà will be all the rage again after this film and after a stage play that is also set to be performed for the first time soon…
In film, not everything has been done yet, and that’s why you have to think of something different. I was surprised that not a single film had been made about her or starring her – this person who has sung 100 songs in Spanish… And twice that number in Italian. You have to seek out new, original ideas.
(Translated from Spanish)
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